Tuesday, October 18, 2011

College Football - Top 5 Players Post-1980 - Big Ten Edition

Wisconsin Badgers
  1. Ron Dayne, RB
  2. Jamar Fletcher, CB
  3. Joe Thomas, OT
  4. Tim Krumrie, DT
  5. Jim Leonhard, S
Dayne was an easy choice as #1.  The former Heisman winner is the signature player in the Football resurgence at Wisconsin.  Fletcher and Leonhard are tied for the school record with 21 interceptions, 5 of which Fletcher took to the house.  Thomas was the most dominant in a pretty impressive group of tackles.  The final two choices were tough, but Leohnard also starred as a punt returner and Krumrie was a 2-time All-American and 3-time Big Ten First Teamer.

Michigan Wolverines
  1. Charles Woodson, CB
  2. Anthony Carter, WR
  3. Desmond Howard, WR
  4. Jake Long, OT
  5. Steve Hutchinson, OG
Woodson gets the nod at #1 as a Heisman winner and two-time All-American.  His impact was shown at cornerback, as a punt returner and on offense.  Carter was a three-time All-American whose overall career accomplishments are enough to place him in front of Howard, the other Heisman winner on the Wolverine list.  Long and Hutchinson grab the last spots over a bevy of pass rushers who were tough to separate from one another.

Ohio State Buckeyes
  1. James Laurinaitis, LB
  2. Eddie George, RB
  3. Orlando Pace, OT
  4. Chris Spielman, LB
  5. Antoine Winfield, CB
When I think about Ohio State Football, I think defense.  That gives the nod to Laurinaitis over George for best Buckeye of the last 30+ years.  Laurinaitis spear-headed the defenses that dominated the Big Ten in the 2000's.  George and Pace eminate from the power-running attack of the mid-1990's.  The list concludes with Spielman, who is the poster-child for OSU Football and Winfield, another in the long line of great defensive players.

Michigan State Spartans
  1. Percy Snow, LB
  2. Tony Mandarich, OT
  3. Lorenzo White, RB
  4. Charles Rogers, WR
  5. Flozell Adams, OT
The Top 3 players on this list define Spartan Football.  Snow was an animal at linebacker in the late 1980's, garnering the Butkus and Lombardi awards his senior season.  Mandarich, despite what happened after his college career, was a beast opening holes for White, one of the all-time workhorses in the Big Ten.  Rogers was a TD machine and Adams finishes off Sparty's list.

Iowa Hawkeyes
  1. Chuck Long, QB
  2. Larry Station, LB
  3. Jared DeVries, DE
  4. Bob Sanders, S
  5. Tim Dwight, WR
Another easy choice for #1, as the highly-decorated Long heads the Hawkeye list.  Long was the Heisman runner-up in his senior season and won every major quarterback award.  In a College Football world where passing has increased and spread offenses are the norm, Long has weathered 25 years and is still the top QB in this period.  Four other decorated Iowans follow, with defensive stalwarts Station, DeVries and Sanders and wide receiver/special teams ace Dwight rounding out the list.

Illinois Fighting Illini
  1. Simeon Rice, DE
  2. David Williams, WR
  3. Dana Howard, LB
  4. Moe Gardner, DT
  5. Jack Trudeau, QB
The Big Ten's all-time sack leader heads the list of Fighting Illini.  Rice was an imposing force and his 44.5 sacks, including 16 in one season, are still a Big Ten Record.  Many forget how good 2-time All-American Williams was because of a pedestrian pro career.  Howard was a tackling machine who was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year twice in his career.  Gardener was another defensive stalwart and Trudeau rounds out the list as the all-time Illinois passing leader.

Indiana Hoosiers
  1. Anthony Thompson, RB
  2. Antwaan Randle El, QB
  3. Mike Dumas, S
  4. Van Waiters, LB
  5. Vaughn Dunbar, RB
This was a two-horse race for #1 and one of the toughest in the conference.  In the end I went with Thompson, a 2-time Big Ten Player of the Year and Heisman runner-up.  Randle El was a nightmare for defensive coordinators, but he comes in #2 mainly because he never got the Hoosiers to a bowl game.  Dumas and Waiters are defensive stand-outs on typically porous Hoosier defensive teams.  Dunbar rounds out the list as the second best Hoosier RB since 1980.

Purdue Boilermakers
  1. Drew Brees, QB
  2. Rod Woodson, CB
  3. Ryan Kerrigan, DE
  4. Jim Everett, QB
  5. Mike Alstott, RB 
Brees tops the list as the record-setting quarterback that took the Boilermakers back to the Rose Bowl.  He edges out the do-everything Woodson, who was a 2-time All-American Cornerback who also returned punts and played offense.  Sackmaster Kerrigan, pre-Brees record-setter Everett and the punishing Alstott round out the Purdue Five.
    Penn State Nittany Lions
    1. Paul Posluszny, LB
    2. Shane Conlan, LB
    3. LaVar Arrington, LB
    4. Curt Warner, RB
    5. Steve Wisniewski, OG
     Penn State is definitely Linebacker U., with three of the greatest heading this list.  On a list that includes 5 two-time All-Americans, distinguishing between them can be difficult.  Posluszny eclipsed most of the records and edges out Conlan who was part of a National Championship team.  Warner and Wisniewski were big-time offensive players on championship teams of the 1980's.

    Minnesota Golden Gophers
    1. Tyrone Carter, S
    2. Darrell Thompson, RB
    3. Eric Decker, WR
    4. Ben Hamilton, OL
    5. Laurence Maroney, RB
    The only defensive player on the list, Tyrone Carter comes in as the #1 Gopher post-1980.  The 2-time All-American and Jim Thorpe award winner beats out Thompson, the teams all-time leading rusher for the top spot.  Decker's huge receiving numbers, Hamilton's superb line play and Maroney's three 1,000 yard seasons earn them the final 3 spots on my list.

    Northwestern Wildcats
    1. Pat Fitzgerald, LB
    2. Darnell Autry, RB
    3. Brett Basanez, QB 
    4. Damien Anderson, RB
    5. Chris Hinton, OT
    The current coach is also the best player on my Northwestern list.  Fitzgerald was a 2-time All-American who led Northwestern to their only Rose Bowl in the past 63 years.  Autry was the star running back on that same Rose Bowl team.  Basanez set Wildcat passing records on his way to Big Ten Player of the Year.  Anderson parlays a huge senior season to #4 on the list and the rock-solid Hinton rounds it out.

    Nebraska Cornhuskers
    1. Mike Rozier, RB
    2. Broderick Thomas, LB
    3. Dave Rimington, C
    4. Grant Wistrom, DE
    5. Tommie Frazier, QB
    Heisman winner Rozier heads the list on the newest member of the Big Ten.  With almost 1,700 yards as a junior and over 2,100 as a senior, Rozier was an unstoppable force in the early 1980's.  Thomas followed him as a 2-time All-American in the mid-to-late 1980's.  Rimington may be one of the best collegiate centers of all-time.  Wistrom was the defensive star on the National Championship teams of the mid-90's, with Frazier rounding out the list as the quarterback of the back-to-back Championship teams.

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